Christian Heritage

Expressing a continuing commitment to the ideals of its founder, Roberts Wesleyan College founded Northeastern Seminary in 1998 as a graduate school of theology.


Roberts Wesleyan College, originally Chili Seminary, was founded by Benjamin Titus Roberts in 1866. Roberts was an evangelical Methodist minister and the first general superintendent of the Free Methodist Church. He and the other founders of the Church affirmed the view of Christian teaching, personal piety, and social action taught by John Wesley. The Church's official teaching in its Articles of Religion clearly shows its roots in classical Christianity. Its heritage can be traced through the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, the Augsburg Confession of the Protestant Reformation, and the great historic creeds of the early church, such as the Apostles' Creed, back to the Scriptures, and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

This heritage has been of major importance in the development of the educational programs at Roberts Wesleyan College and informs the mission of Northeastern Seminary as a graduate school of theology. Stating his purpose for the founding of Chili Seminary, Roberts wrote, "While we cannot prize too highly the benefits of mental culture, we should not lose sight of that moral and religious culture which lies at the foundation of correct principles and good character."

Historical Timeline

1990s: Roberts Wesleyan College (RWC) successfully launches first three graduate programs, MEd, MSW, and MS in Management, and a masters in religion is proposed
1996: Alternatives for theological education are explored and support is gained
1997: Research and formal proposal is prepared and approved by board of trustees
1998: Authorization of NYS Board of Regents in July-approved to offer Master of Arts in Theological Studies, Master of Divinity
Classes begin in September with 11 students
1998-2001: RWC faculty become first faculty of NES-moving from PT to FT status Additional FT faculty added, PT faculty expanded, and adjunct faculty added
2000: First graduating class of master’s degree program, 5 students
2003: Northeastern Seminary achieves Association of Theological Schools (ATS) accreditation-in the shortest timeframe possible, per ATS regulations
2004: Following accreditation by ATS, NES undertakes and achieves MSCHE accreditation as a self-standing institution NES submits proposal for Doctor of Ministry degree program
ATS grants permission to proceed with D.Min. degree and grants provisional accreditation
Alumni association formed NES begins to engage in certificate (non-degree) theological education
2005: Ministry development program of conferences and seminars matures
2006: First certificate program graduates, 44 students 
NES launches Hispanic Certificate of Ministry program
2007: First graduating class of D.Min. program, 4 students
2008: Ten-year anniversary
2009: Leadership transition as founding deans retire/depart
2010: Expands degree program offerings to include a Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership and Master of Arts in Theology and Social Justice
Launches course offering location for master's degree to serve students in greater Buffalo region—through video conferencing at Sheridan Meadows, Williamsville, N.Y.
2012: Launches course offering location for master's degree to serve students in the greater Syracuse region—through video conferencing at Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, N.Y.
2013: Launches course offering location for master's degree to serve students in the greater New York Capital region—through video conferencing at Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, N.Y.
Expands partnerships for certificate theological education in New York Capital region
2014: Dr. Deana Porterfield inaugurated as president of NES and RWC
Regional advisory boards established in each community offering courses
2015: ATS approves fully distance learning model for all master’s degree programs
2016: Northeastern Seminary celebrates 150 year legacy of Roberts Wesleyan College

Northeastern Seminary celebrates 20 year anniversary

Launches fully online degrees for Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Transformational Leadership, Master of Arts in Theology and Social Justice and Master of Arts in Theological Studies